Pick-a-Poem: Debra Nystrom


Welcome, blog readers, to another week and another featured poem. Every Wednesday, we feature a new poem here on the blog for you to read and discover. These poems all come from one great resource — Poetry Daily. Check them out! For now, though, let’s explore two poems by Debra Nystrom, Cave Image and Sound and Quiet.

According to her bio, Debra Nystrom has written three poetry collections, including A Quarter TurnTorn Sky, and Bad River Road. For her work, she has received the James Dickey Award, the Balch Poetry Award, and the James Boatwright III Prize for Poetry. She teaches creative writing at the University of Virginia.

Cave Image and Sound and Quiet by Debra Nystrom

Cave Image

National Geographic

Torchlight would’ve wavered over
these antelopes’ flight across pocky walls.
Then later, from under the dirt floor,
human bones surfacing—dusted, dated,
positions marked out like constellations—
and mingled with them, ancient seeds of plants that
couldn’t have grown inside a cave, away from sun
—would’ve been gathered, bright flowers carried in
to cover the ones not coming out again.

Sound and Quiet

Glint of heat-lightning, murmurs off in the west;
then the air stills, settles itself, dusk pressing closer
to the river as currents twist
under shift of temperature, sorting whatever matter combs through their
tangle this evening. Half a mile up from milkweed and mud-scent,
not far back from the bluff’s edge, two of us on the porch talking,
then talking less—family, war buddies not seen again, what to remember,
claim, or let
go to cicada-sound in the windbreak that rises, takes over like the sea that
covered everything
once, old music hardly noticed, lifting each night and dispersing it, until stars
appear, a song
finishes, like waking.

I hope you enjoyed these two poems. For more posts like this one, click here!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

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